By Susan Dromey Heeter
To prepare to write Joyful Musings, I simply muse. I’m never truly sure of what I’ll write but this week I’m sure of upon whom I shall muse, Mrs. Pren Boss.
Mrs. Boss passed on earlier this week at age 88. She lived down the block from my childhood home on Pineywoods Avenue in Springfield, Mass. A mother of 10 children, her youngest, Tom, traveled with me through Holy Name Grammar School and Cathedral High.
And as with any Irish Catholic neighborhood, our families aligned – it was her husband, Dr. Gene Boss, who was with my Dad immediately during his fatal heart attack. My brother John acted as Best Man for Chris Boss’ wedding. And it was Mrs. Boss who was with my mom, with my family in more ways than one during some deeply hard times.
And Mrs. Boss wore sneakers with her dresses and drove a VW Bus – not out of any cool factor, simply because she had 10 kids to transport – and, as Forest Park was a neighborhood of large broods, often Mrs. Boss carried loads more in her van – the Carys, the Donnellans, the Cavanaughs, the Ryans.
But what I muse joyfully upon is not Mrs. Boss as a mother to so many or as a nurse – for which she was – but as a friend, for which she was to the end with countless, countless people.
And she was a friend in faith, she was a friend in kindness, she was a friend in joy. She could make my mother laugh like no other.
Mrs. Boss played the harmonica and taught her dog, Boomer, to sing along with her. Well, maybe he did not sing so much as howl. Mrs. Boss laughed, a silly giggle, and when she learned my Mom had pancreatic cancer, she wrote a note my Mom put directly on the fridge: “The enemy has been identified; we are now on the attack.”
She brought levity and seriousness to the most challenging of situations, faith and hope to so many in despair.
Years ago I was in Springfield and met up with Mrs. Boss at the Ryans, the family with whom I practically lived growing up. They had 11 kids – what was one more? I had my then toddler daughter with me and she was entranced by some ants in the driveway.
Mrs. Boss knelt down and watched the ants with my Maria…enveloped by their busy lives. A few weeks later, a quilt decorated with ants arrived in the mail. Mrs. Boss did things like that – no fanfare, no drama, just pure love and joy in life.
So as I muse joyfully today on a woman of supreme grace and dignity, I muse with a loss of one who will be deeply missed. But I can imagine her above, playing harmonica with Boomer and belly laughing with her friends, her family, her love.
May you, dear readers, muse joyfully on someone you love or have loved today, too. And do learn how to play the harmonica and teach your dog to sing.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.